Chennai, Apr 8 : Reigning champions Chennai Super Kings began their title defence with a thrilling two-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders as the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League got off to a sensational start here today.
Chennai rode on opener Srikkanth Anirudha's 64-run knock and his two partnerships with Suresh Raina (33) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29) to post 153 for four after electing to bat.
Their spinners bowled well and they restricted Kolkata to 151 for seven at the M A Chidamabaram stadium Kolkata had lost five wickets at 120 by the 17th over but Manoj Tiwary (27 off 15) played a sensational cameo to bring them back in the match.
However, in the end Chennai won the battle of nerves as Tim Soutee gave away just six runs in the final over when Kolkata needed nine to win.Jacques Kallis played a brilliant 54-run knock at the top but it was Chennai's day out there as their spinners bowled well under pressure.
All the four Chennai spinners got a wicket each with both R Ashwin and Shadab Jakati giving away just 26 runs each in their quote of four overs.Kolkata got the start they needed, as Kallis and Manvinder Bisla raised 64 runs upfront but their middle order could not build on that.
Kallis was the more prolific scorer of the two openers, as he creamed Southee for three boundaries in the fourth over while Bisla relied more on rotating the strike.
The duo scored 44 in the first five overs but Bisla, who survived a stumping chance in the sixth over off Suraj Randiv, could not build on to the good start.
Bisla was finally stumped off Shadab Jakati in the ninth over as Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni made up for the earlier mistake.
Kallis hit Albie Morkel for consecutive boundaries and dangerous Yusuf Pathan hit a massive six off Jakati to give impetus to Kolkata chase.However, Pathan (11) could not last long as he was run out on a brilliant piece of fielding from Dhoni.
Kallis, wanting to complete his fifty, called for a run after nudging the ball on the leg side. Dhoni was lightening fast in collecting the ball and found Pathan short with a direct throw on the stumps.
The South African all rounder completed his half-century with a single off Jakati but soon departed when his sweep off R Ashwin's full toss landed in the hands of S Badrinath.
Kolkata skipper Gautam Gambhir sent Manoj Tiwary and Eoin Morgan ahead of himself and they required 36 runs from the last four overs.Raina deceived Morgan (6) to have him stumped out and finally Gambhir, the costliest player at the IPL auction in January, came to the crease. However, Gambhir (1) could not do much as he was run out after facing just two balls.
Two quick wickets pegged Kolkata back as they still needed 26 runs off the last two overs with big hitters back in the pavilion.However, Tiwary brought them back by hitting Suraj Randiv for two sixes after Laxmi Shukla had hit the spinner for a four.
Another twist followed as Tiwary was stumped off the last ball, which left Kolkata to get nine runs from the last over.Shukla scored two runs from the first ball but got out in the next one. Iqbal Abdullah pulled Tim Southee and ran two runs but missed the next ball.Needing five from two balls, Abduallah ran one and Rajat Bhatia had the unenviable task of scoring a boundary from the last ball.However, all Bhatia could score was just one run.
Earlier, Anirudha shared a 75-run stand with Raina for the second wicket and then combined with Dhoni to raise 49 runs for the third wicket to help Chennai cross the 150-run mark.
Anirudha's knock came off 55 balls and was studded with six fours and two sixes. Albie Morkel came up with a useful 9-ball 15 and finished off the innings with a huge six off Jacques Kallis.
For Kolkata, Kallis (2/34) was the most successful bowlers but he was quite expensive. Laxmipati Balaji put up a fine show, though he went wicket-less, as the paceman gave away just 25 runs in his quota of four overs.
Gambhir's decision to hand the ball to Iqbal Abdullah paid as the left-arm spinner dismissed Murali Vijay in the last ball of the first over.Looking for his second boundary, Vijay gave charge to Abdullah but his shot went straight to Rajat Bhatia at mid-on.
Chennai could have been in deep trouble had Yusuf Pathan not dropped Anirudh and Raina in a gap of six balls.Pathan had a caught and bowled chance when Anirudha mis-timed a drive but could not hold on to the opportunity.
Balaji bowled a superb next over by not allowing Raina to explode with his impeccable line and length and created an opportunity but the buttered-fingered Pathan spilled the chance at mid-on.
Anirudh was dropped at his individual score of 11 while Rania was on 13 at that time.
Chennai could manage 32 runs from the first five overs but Anirudh hit Kallis for three boundaries in the next over to start the fireworks.
Continuing with his good touch, Anirudha smashed leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda for the first six of the event over long-off after Rania had scored a boundary in the same over.
Raina and Anirudha, son of India's chief selector K Srikkanth, took Chennai to 78 at half-way mark but the partnership was broken when Pathan dismissed Raina.
The breakthrough, though, came after another goof-up in the fielding as Eoin Morgan had given Anirudha a second life by dropping him in the previous ball in the 11th over.
Raina's dismissal affected the run-rate as the next five overs fetched just 29 runs and only two boundaries were hit.Dhoni broke the shackles with a massive six off Ladda and then Anirudha joined the party with a six over square leg.Kallis had Dhoni caught behind and then bowled Anirudha in the second ball of the last over. PTI